Does Kava Make Your Mouth Numb? | Botanic Tonics

Does Kava Make Your Mouth Numb? | Botanic Tonics

Reviewed by Jamal Bouie

From peaceful tranquility to sharp focus, the kava plant offers a trove of potential benefits to enjoy. However, you may notice a slightly odder sensation when taking this natural dietary supplement: a numb sensation in the mouth.

Before you twist your tongue into knots, just know that kava “numb tongue” is quite normal. In fact, kava is expected to create a temporary numb sensation in the mouth cavity. 

If you hope to reap the soothing and social-enhancing effects of this supplement, it’s important to know what your body might feel. Keep reading to learn about the mouth-numbing effects of kava, as well as how to manage this sensation.

Why Does Kava Make Your Mouth Numb?

You brew your kava tea, you take a sip… and you start to lose the feeling in your tongue. Don’t panic. This is kava kava at its most normal. To help you feel at peace and enjoy this supplement, it’s important to understand kava root and why it creates this tingly numbness.

With origins in the Pacific Islands, kava is made from the roots of the Piper methysticum plant. [1] This tree from the pepper family is rich in a class of compounds known as kavalactones—the compound that creates all the sought-after effects of the kava plant, including the following:[2]

  • Enhanced mood
  • Boosted sociality
  • Relaxation
  • Stress and anxiety relief
  • Sleep aid

But how exactly do kavalactones orchestrate the numbing sensation that sets the stage for the kava experience?

Kavalactones interact with specialized nerve receptors in tissues, such as those responsible for temperature and touch sensation.[3] Once you sip a kava tonic, the kavalactones make contact with your oral cavity tissues, which control your perception of taste and touch in the mouth. As a result, the interaction between receptors in the oral cavity and kavalactones leads to a cozy numbness, as well as a possible tingly sensation.

See related: What Does Kava Taste Like?

Is Mouth Numbness a Concern?

When your tongue and mouth go numb, it may feel slightly strange or even uncomfortable. Is this numbness a warning sign from your kava consumption or just a passing sensation?

First and foremost, rest assured that any mouth numbness induced by drinking kava is rarely a cause for concern. In fact, it's a hallmark of the kava experience, a signature move that the botanical world has crafted to enchant your senses. For further assurance, there are zero recorded cases of permanent numbness resulting from kava use.

It’s important to note that kava numb tongue may feel slightly different for each individual, just like kava’s mental or other physical effects. Typically, any oral numbness lasts at most an hour. However, individual sensitivity and the kava potency can shorten or lengthen this timeframe. If you feel like any numbness is lasting far beyond a typical duration, contact a healthcare professional.

Managing and Minimizing Oral Numbness

For many, numb tongue is an enjoyable part of the kava drinking experience, pairing well with the substance’s relaxing effects. However, it’s understandable if you prefer to keep the intensity in check—and luckily, you can. 

To minimize kava numb tongue, consider these activating tips and strategies:

  • Start slow – Gradually build up your tolerance by starting with a smaller kava dosage and gradually increasing as your comfort level grows. This way, you can avoid any overwhelming numbness or other symptoms.
  • Pair with flavors – Consider subduing kava with flavors you enjoy. Try mixing your kava with juices, coconut milk, or even a touch of honey to soften the numbing sensation and make it more palatable.
  • Chew on something – Consuming a light snack or chewing on gum can help stimulate blood flow to the mouth. When sipping kava, this can reduce any numbness and help it fade faster.
  • Stay hydrated – Keeping yourself well-hydrated not only helps in managing the intensity of the numbing sensation but also complements the overall kava experience. Sipping water alongside your kava can help flush out any lingering numbing effects and maintain a balanced sensory experience.
  • Enjoy mindfully – No matter your expertise or experience, it’s always best to approach any kava session with mindfulness. The more you embrace any physical sensations, the easier time you will have experiencing them. Try to create an environment that helps you immerse yourself in the world of kava's relaxation and serenity. 
  • Switch to capsules – Simply don’t like that numb feeling in any amount? Try switching to kava capsules. The encapsulated format will prevent kava from making contact with your oral cavity, keeping numbness at bay while maintaining kava’s benefits.

Create Your Ideal Kava Experience with Botanic Tonics

As you sip on kava tea or tonic, you're entering a realm of tranquility, ease, and openness. Does kava make your mouth numb? It may, but just remember that this sensation is a normal and welcome part of kava. 

To navigate these physical changes, it’s important to seek information and guidance. That’s where we can help.

At Botanic Tonics, our products are more than simple kava supplements. From our delicious feel free kava tonic to our kava capsules, we craft kava that’s designed for high-quality, responsible, and enjoyable experiences. With our ethical sourcing and transparent production, you can trust   Botanic Tonics to provide the responsible (and tasty) kava journey you’re looking for. 

Ready to relax? Create your kava experience by exploring our Botanic Tonics collection.


  1. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Kava.
  2. ScienceDirect. Kavalactones - an overview.
  3. Eater. Meet Kava Tea, a Prescription-Free Alternative to Xanax.

About The Author

Jamal Bouie Botanic Tonic

Jamal Bouie

Jamal Bouie is an accomplished professional with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD in Biomedicine at Salus University. Jamal has worked in several industries; he began his career in pharmaceutical manufacturing and transitioned to the cannabis industry, where he specialized in analytical testing and manufacturing, playing a vital role in ensuring product safety and compliance. Now, Jamal has turned his attention to the dietary supplement field, combining his scientific acumen with his passion for health and wellness.

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